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Santa visits with residents Thursday during the “Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony” at Osan Air Base, South Korea.
Santa visits with residents Thursday during the “Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony” at Osan Air Base, South Korea. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Four-year-old Layne Donnelly and her mother, Jo, sat outside the base theater Thursday night, waiting for the lights to come on.

They were among many base residents who gathered for the annual “Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony,” in which 51st Fighter Wing commander Brig. Gen. Joseph Reynes and a gaggle of youths threw a huge “on switch” to light the lights on a tree.

Layne, who turns 5 on Sunday, said she likes the holiday season.

“My favorite part is when you get the presents,” she said.

Jo Donnelly said coming to the ceremony was part of a plan to prepare for the holidays.

“I love Christmas and I wanted to catch the spirit,” she said. “It’s kind of hard overseas.”

Two special groups were on hand to help bring the holiday spirit, according to Capt. Terri Gast, an Air Force chaplain and event project officer.

She said the Osan American High School Jazz Band and members of the Yoido Full Gospel Church Ensemble were invited to sing holiday songs. And the 51st Services Squadron served free hot chocolate and cookies during the event.

Reynes spoke to the crowd before lighting the tree.

“Just as the holiday tree is the centerpiece of our homes, our Osan holiday tree is the centerpiece of our new town center,” he said. “Like most of us, this tree is a transplant to this place — but also like us, its roots are strong and its spirit indomitable.

“My holiday wish is that you will look upon this tree and count your blessings.”

After the ceremony, the Yoido ensemble performed the “Joy of Christmas” in the theater.

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